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The tale revolves around Niyog ? the selection of a mate for impregnating a woman whose husband is incapable of fathering a child.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2003 16:33 IST

Director: Amol Palekar
Cast: Anant Nag, Deepti Naval, Sonali Bendre
Marathi/90 minutes/35 mm Cinemascope/Colour

The story is set in Malla kingdom of which Shravasti was the capital in the 10th century and revolves around the issue of Niyog, the selection of a mate for impregnating a married woman whose husband is incapable of fathering a child due to ailment or impotency. Niyog was an accepted social custom since the 6th century B.C.

The King of Malla was incapable of producing an heir to the throne but was duty-bound in that regard. The King and his wife Sheelavati were happily married and shared an otherwise compatible life. The Queen did not feel incomplete and had accepted his impotency.

However the all-male Senate, considering the ailment and age of the King, declared that it was the duty of the Queen to accept Niyoga for the welfare of the kingdom. Her approval or permission was never sought before the decision was taken though the right to select a mate was given to her.

The King faced a predicament – he had sacrifice his personal feelings for the larger interest while the Queen had to accept the harsh reality against her will.

The climax of the film explores the respective dilemmas of the characters – the King’s emotional turmoil during the long hours of that night, the Queen’s discovery of her sexuality through the experience of that night, the Senate members’ unending justifications for their decision… and their altered equations thereafter.

Producer: Amol Palekar & Rohit Sharma
Story: Surendra Verma
Screenplay: Sameer Kulkarni & Sandhya Gokhale
Cinematography: Debu Deodhar
Editor: Zafar Sultan
Art: Nitin Chandrakant Desai
Music: Sandhya Gokhale
Sound: Narinder Singh

First Published: Oct 10, 2003 10:12 IST